Decisions equal success – and there are four decisions, in growing your business, that you must get right or risk leaving significant revenues, profits, and time on the table. These four decisions are: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.
As Gazelles Coaches we provide our customers with tools that help them grow and improve these Four Decisions.
Even though most growth firms face continual challenges in all four areas, at any one time the challenges in one of these areas overshadows the rest. Therefore, your first decision is to choose which one of the four to focus on next.
This is part of the Strategy process and specifically the choosing of a priority falls into development of Strategic Discipline, Positioning Systems practice of discovering your priorities, meetings and metrics to drive your business execution.
What tools can Gazelles and specifically help your business? If you’ve read Scaling Up you discovered a wealth of these tools and resources. For the next several blogs we’ll look at the tools we provide in each of these Four Decisions to help you gain a perspective on where you can grow your business and the help an expert facilitator and business coach can offer your business.
Today let’s look at People. The foundation of scaling up a great company revolves around the People Decision – having the “right people on the bus" in author Jim Collins’ terminology. What type of tools do Gazelles coaches provide to our customers to help them?
Gazelles coaching tools in People Decision include Leadership Team Health, One-Page Personal Plan, FACe exercise: Functional Accountability Exercise, Core Processes, Performance Matrix, Topgrading, On-On-One Coaching, Love or Loathe Exercise, and Grow Your Team Onboarding Coaching Development.
This blog will need to be divided into two segments to provide a brief overview and explanation for each. We get to those not covered today in Thursday’s blog. So come back for it.
Before we offer these resources and tools Positioning Systems offers it’s important to understand that the People Decision can be broken into four key elements:
- The Culture, which includes the Core Values, Core Purpose and daily operating environment (including a “continuous culture of learning”)
- The Leaders, referring most often to the senior leadership team (CEO’s direct reports)
- The Managers, referring most often to the middle management team that leads the day to day execution of the quarterly plan
- The Team, referring to the team on the “front lines” doing the work day to day (reporting to the (middle) Managers).
These groups will differ a bit in each company on how they are specifically defined, but every company has these four elements of People in them.
It should be further recognized that there are three segments of People to directly address: the Leaders, the Team, the Managers, as well we should touch on aspects of Culture. However Culture is primarily addressed in the Strategy Decision, where we work to define Core Values, Core Purpose and other key aspects of Culture (such as Actions to Live By)."
- Leadership Team Health: Organizational health and alignment have become increasingly important. Being able to understand how people function in their environments and how they will make decisions gives leaders a way to effectively choose the best people for positions on their leadership teams.
An important point is how teams function and how they commit to the whole organization. The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team has been a very good resource for assessing how leadership teams function. For more on this exercise and a visual of the Five Dysfunction Triangle visit Accountability Starts With Trust.
- When I coached the E-Myth the first step to work with any leader was to help them identify their Primary Aim, or their Personal Mission/Purpose statement. Verne recently introduced a tool called the “One-Page Personal Plan” that can help record what is most important to you in Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness and Finances. It fits nicely into this Primary Aim E-Myth function, although not identifying nearly as specifically an individual’s purpose. At Positioning Systems we still offer the Primary Aim as a tool for our leaders and executive team members who wish to explore more intimately their personal purpose.
- With the “One-Page Personal Plan” Verne cautions, something this important is very personal. In that sense consider your first work on this as a working draft that you will update over time.
Here are 4 important decisions to grow and scale our lives. Take a few seconds to quietly reflect on how we would answer it individually.
- Relationships (Who are you helping?)
- Achievements (What are you most proud of?)
- Rituals (What regular actions support your purpose?)
- Wealth (Is money stopping or flowing through you?)
- Getting the Right People – Right Seats in your organization exercise helps create clarity. Rockefeller Habits calls this tool the FACe exercise: Functional Accountability Exercise. You’ll discover conflicts, open roles, etc. in this exercise: The goal is to identify challenges that may be barriers to your successful growth!
Ask these 3 key questions every organization should uncover at least once a year (often more frequently):
- Are there any seats (key roles) that are empty? (no clear accountable leadership)
- Are there seats with multiple leaders so that clarity and accountability are lacking?
- Are there missing seats (roles) that are vital for healthy growth?
- Core Processes, a small number of Processes that often cut across departmental boundaries and are left unidentified and with no leadership accountability to keep them efficient and optimized at all times.
Think of Core Processes as Operational Threads that run through the organization and which you wish to clearly identify and assign an accountable leader to help keep well-tuned. There are five attributes of a Core Process, ask, “What are our Core Processes in our company?” Core Processes are:
- Typically cross departmental operational & management boundaries, that is, multiple departments have an operational role in a core process (no one department can fully execute a Core Process);
- Since they cross Departmental boundaries, they rarely have an accountable leader assigned to their upkeep;
- In order to ensure the most efficient and effective productivity in your organization, it is vital that they be reviewed and optimized on a periodic (regular) basis. Otherwise they become torn and tattered and reduce your ability to execute operationally;
- There are typically no more than 10 and no less than 5 in a mid-market company; and,
- The objective is to clearly document them (flow chart) and then work as a team to improve them: make them better, faster and cheaper. Let’s look at an example of a Core Process to help illustrate their importance.
- FACe (Function Accountability Chart) If the leadership team is healthy and aligned, the next important question to ask is: “How is the frontline team that is executing the business doing?” Do we have the right talent on the bus? Are they living the Core Values? Are they productive? If not, why not?
These are all vital questions for the leadership team to consider and it begins with making sure you have the right people, doing the right things, in the right way.
Here are 5 key attributes of developing a culture where you have the right people in your company; review them and put them to work in a Leadership Team Exercise.
These are best practices for your talent program:
- Regular review of team: Leaders should have an ongoing, regular review of their talent to ensure they are continuously working to upgrade talent and remove C Players from the culture.
- Living the Core Values: It is vital that the CEO ensure their direct reports (the senior leadership team members) are exemplary of the Core Values first. As goes the senior leadership team, so goes the rest of the company. Then, cascade it downward with direct reports (living the values).
- A Player talent should be some of the most productive team members in their individual contributor roles, as well as living the values as examples.
- Avoid the C Player trap: The #1 reason A Players leave a company is tolerance of C Players…the vast majority of managers in companies spend more time with C Players one-on-one than with A Players (often due to disciplinary reasons or requirements to address C Player behaviors). Don’t fall into this trap of spending more time with your problem people at the expense of spending time with your top talent!
- As leaders, learn and come to instinctively know what actions to take with each type of team members: Retain A Players, coach (for growth) B Players, warn B\C Players, and move C Players out of the organization (don’t waste your time trying to fix them).”
PERFORMANCE MATRIX: Let’s look at a simple tool adapted from some of the Topgrading principles – a simple, 4 quadrant matrix where you evaluate each team member based on 2 core criteria:
- What percentage of the time do they live the Core Values; and
- What is their average percent productivity in their role?
The answer to each question will lead to a single data point to place them in the quadrant – as an A, B, B/C or C Performer. For a visual of this four quadrant tool visit Balance - Core Values/Purpose and Big Hair Audacious Goals and scroll to the end of the blog.
Caution, do this for each team member NOT in the room with you. Then collaborate on actions to take – retention activities (A Performers), coaching activities (A Potential), and exit activities (other than A Performers). It is important to note that this is a summary, high level exercise and is not to replace regular evaluations, coaching and normal HR processes. BUT it is a good tool for the leadership team to evaluate and collaborate on their level of talent, strengths and weaknesses – and actions to take to grow successfully.
In essence you are Topgrading your team, determining the number of “A” players you possess. It’s a good exercise to measure and then work on to improve this percentage as one of my customers has determined to do for 2015.
Next blog we continue with People tools focusing on Topgrading, On-On-One Coaching, Love or Loathe Exercise, and Grow Your Team Onboarding Coaching Development.